Ministry of Health (MOH) officials and health assistance NGOs are expressing cautious
optimism about the health impact so far of the widespread flooding that has stricken
Cambodia since mid September, but warn the crisis is far from over.
According to Dr Prak Piseth Raingsey, Director of the MOH's Preventative Medicine
Department, 56,085 Cambodians have reported illnesses connected with recent flooding,
but he says the biggest fear - cholera - has not been realized.
"So far there have been no cholera cases, but in ten provinces there are reports
of multiple cases of diarrhea, skin and eye infections, malaria, measles and acute
respiratory infections," Raingsey told the Post on October 25.
The MOH is coordinating with relief organizations to deliver medicines to affected
areas over the next two months, including vitamin A, rehydration salts, aluminum
sulphate and 30 million Chloramine water purification tablets.
Raingsey said a public education program emphasizing the importance of water hygiene,
and stockpiling of cholera vaccines in provincial health centers was expected to
reduce the threat of a cholera epidemic.
Dr Van Engelgem, Deputy Medical Coordinator of Medicins Sans Frontieres Holland/Belgium,
agreed that initial fears of serious health problems in the wake of the flooding
have proven unfounded.
"There are more cases of diarrhea ... but there are no serious health problems
and the situation seems to be under control."